At age 10, Kinley Dorji from Mendhagang village joined a monastery in Punakha to become a monk.
He is the eldest of two sons whose parents are farmers. Drawn to books, he tries to visit the Mendhagang READ Center as often as he can while pursuing his goal to become a monk. He has been visiting the center regularly for two years now.
In Bhutan, nearly two-thirds of the population lives in remote areas isolated by rugged terrain with few educational or economic opportunities. Many communities are far flung, days away from the nearest town, book, or newspaper. “We don’t have good educational resources at the monastery,” Kinley says, while selecting a book from a shelf at the center. “But with the launch of a Mobile Library Program by Mendhagang READ Center for our monastery, it became convenient,” he says, noting that he and his friends now have new books to read.
To provide the most remote communities in Bhutan access to educational resources, READ Bhutan launched the Mobile Library Program.
READ Bhutan started the Mobile Library as an outreach program where volunteers travel by foot to take books to hard-to-reach areas. However, in order to reach more remote areas, READ Bhutan and center staff sought funding to launch a mobile library vehicle that could be converted into a library and ICT center. Most recently in September 2016, the Mobile Library visited the Pho Chu Dumra Central Monastic Primary School in Punakha. It provided books in both the English and Dzongkha language to the school.
Kinley’s active participation in the center’s literacy programs has also enabled him to improve his reading and communication skills. “I have improved my reading skills,” he says. “Now I can read books without any hesitation in front of my friends and will gradually learn to speak English.” Besides participating in the literacy programs, he also joins ICT programs regularly.
The young monk feels that the center’s initiative to provide educational resources benefits not just the youth, but adults as well. The Mobile Library program makes it easier for others like Kinley, who live in hard-to-reach places, to access books and other materials. He hopes that the program will expand to more rural communities to reach others who wish to gain access to more educational resources.